Pennsylvania has earned top national honors for its work to transform outdoor recreation planning and get residents to spend more time outdoors, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announced Friday.
The state’s five-year Statewide Outdoor Recreation Plan was honored as the best in the nation by the National Park Service and the National Association for Recreation Resource Planners at a recent conference.
“We are very proud to receive this award recognizing our work,” Department of Conservation and Natural Resources acting Secretary Richard J. Allan said. “Our plan is both unique and useful for DCNR and its partners as we work to encourage citizens to be active outside, develop a love and appreciation for nature, improve physical and mental health, and instill a conservation ethic.”
Pennsylvania’s five-year plan was released in November 2009 to help policy-makers and communities deal with a changing population that is increasingly more urban, and whose children have been spending less time outdoors.
Four surveys supporting the plan showed that families are spending less time outdoors; children are more obese than ever before; and residents are calling for access to close-to-home recreation, walkable and bikable communities, protected lands and waters, and well-maintained park facilities.
The plan identified walking for pleasure or fitness as the most popular outdoor recreation activity in Pennsylvania. Other popular activities include sightseeing and driving for pleasure, nature watching, swimming, picnicking and bicycling.
The plan outlines 28 program-oriented and five funding recommendations as action steps.
“Congratulations to the authors of Pennsylvania’s outdoor recreation plan, which closely aligns with the federal America’s Great Outdoors Initiative and its focus on conservation, recreation and connecting people to the great outdoors,” said U.S. Department of the Interior acting Assistant Secretary Will Shafroth.
Representatives from the U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service met with DCNR and outdoor recreation stakeholders in Harrisburg this week to identify top project-specific ideas where the state and federal governments might work together on conservation, recreation and historic preservation efforts.
States must update outdoor recreation plans every five years in order to continue to be eligible for related federal dollars.
A one-year implementation report outlining a number of success stories related to the plan’s four goals can be viewed online at http://www.paoutdoorrecplan.com/downloads/one_year_report.pdf.